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Startups in the Turku region | A walk and talk with Katerina from CYF Digital

Katerina Panina is one of the co-founders of CYF Digital – a company that provides digital services for municipal marketing and for (im)migrants. Katerina is originally from Russia and came to Finland as an international student. We asked a few questions about Katerina’s experiences of startup life in Turku. What has the Turku region offered her so far?

  • About the company: CYF Digital provides digital services for city marketing and enhancing integration of migrants
  • Founded: 2018
  • Team: 14 (of which 4 interns)
  • Location of the office: co-working space HUB Turku in the middle of the old city of Turku
  • Latest achievement: The release of our 2nd digital service ‘Mobiililuotsi’ for migrants in January 2022.
  • Random fact: Our team members have lived in 16 different countries combined, so we have a lot of personal experience of moving around.
Katerina enjoys working at HUB Turku as it is an inspiring co-working space in the heart of Turku Old Town. © Kiki Siivikko / CYF Digital

I met with Katerina in the lovely environment of the co-working space HUB Turku. The old cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and the Turku Cathedral just around the corner is surely an inspirational atmosphere for working. 

Also with a sparkle of excitement in her eyes, Katerina told me about the latest news: the old Rettig factory where their office lies will be transformed to a center of arts. A creative place for creative minds!

Why did you choose HUB Turku for our meeting spot?

“We are meeting at the HUB Turku for several reasons: this is where our office is, and, as such, it is a vital and meaningful place for us despite all the remote work during the past couple of years. It is also a co-working place that welcomes everyone no matter their gender, age, race, status or other. HUB Turku is a truly warm and lovely place to work for startups, freelancers and students – you never feel like an outsider.”

HUB Turku is a truly warm and lovely place to work for startups, freelancers and students – you never feel like an outsider.”

HUB Turku offers both offices and flexible working areas for affordable prices for anyone looking for a place to work. All the price packages include a shared kitchen and free flow of coffee and tea. In addition, you can book meeting rooms and other spaces for events. Not to forget about meeting lovely people and sharing ideas.

“HUB Turku is located in the oldest, most historical part of the City of Turku. It is truly a picturesque place. This street is one of the most photographed places in the city, definitely worth visiting.”

Most of the CYF team members are not originally from Turku, yet it is a home to many such as marketing planner Ninna (left), Katerina and CEO Susanna. © Kiki Siivikko / CYF Digital

What does the Turku region offer for startups and international talents?

The Turku region is a vibrant and international place with great support services. Katerina finds that the Turku Business Region has been especially helpful: the startup has gotten mentoring, support, new contacts and even a free office space in SparkUp in their early history.

“The Turku region is quite international in my experience, so you can communicate in English almost anywhere and you don’t stand out from the crowd too much. Of course, knowing the language helps when you don’t want to miss out on opportunities that are primarily advertised in Finnish, for example.” 

The Turku region is quite international in my experience, so you can communicate in English almost anywhere.

“The city and the region has all the necessary services and activities, yet it is small enough to go around by foot or by bike. The nature is also amazing, especially the wonderful archipelago. Because some of our services are local to Turku, me and my team often get to enjoy the local environment doing content creation tasks.”

CYF Digital participated also in BusinessUp accelerator program organized by the regional development company Turku Science Park ltd. in 2018. 

“It was an intensive 10-week program, which helped us immensely in developing our strategy, sales and processes. Afterwards we still had a lot of mentoring and contacts for potential customers. Not to forget a free office space that we enjoyed after participating in the program. I have to mention, proud of my team, that we ended up winning the pitching competition by the end of the program. These kinds of moments give you confidence and motivation to keep going.”

Katerina loves to develop services that help people in their daily lives. © Kiki Siivikko / CYF Digital

What kind of services does CYF Digital provide?

The main services that CYF Digital provides are Know Your Hoods – search engine for neighborhoods and Mobiililuotsi – mobile guide for (im)migrants. Currently they are also developing their 3rd service My Mobile Tutor – app for university students together with 7 European universities. 

“Now we are providing services that I would’ve needed myself”

“Our services help cities and towns to stand out as appealing places to live, highlighting their strengths and making the voices of their current residents heard. Our services are there for people when they are looking for a new area to relocate to or want to explore their current environment better. The way we gather, structure and provide information makes it easier for people to adapt to a new environment and feel like they belong.”

What does an expert of neighborhoods think about her current home city?

“I am really happy to live and work in Turku.”